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Groups and Facilitators within Problem Structuring Processes

Abstract:

Groups and facilitators within problem structuring processes Simon Bell
In problem structuring methods, facilitators often ask of themselves questions such as: what makes a ‘good’ problem structuring group (PSG) and indeed what does ‘good’ mean? How can group dynamics be improved and does it matter in terms of the quality of the problem structuring that that group engages in? On the surface these questions seem to be straightforward. Indeed, those who have helped facilitate many participatory workshops will think they intuitively know the answers to these questions; they can, from their professional practice, ‘feel’ which PSGs are doing well and producing novel insights and those which are functioning less well and perhaps generating something that is less imaginative and more routine as a consequence. The intuitive, practice-learned insight will depend upon a rich array of visual signals that become more obvious with experience. This paper asks whether there is value in being much more open and analytical about these questions and answers. If so, then how can we make the unwritten processes and outcomes of PSGs written? Indeed, open to whom? Finally, how much of any insights learned by facilitators should be shared with those engaged in workshops?

Springer Link

Bell, S. and Morse, S. 2013. Groups and facilitators within problem structuring processes. Journal of the Operational Research Society. 64, pp. 959 -972

Being, Engaging, Contextualizing and Managing Matrix — a Means for Nonspecialists to Assess Group Dynamics? Embedding Technology in Practice

Abstract:

Being, Engaging, Contextualizing and Managing Matrix — a Means for Nonspecialists to Assess Group Dynamics? Embedding Technology in Practice Simon BellIn April 1999, academics from the Systems Department at the Open University in UK devised a matrix for assessing third‐level systems students—the matrix was based upon systemic practitioner behaviours taught in the course. It was based upon earlier methods that sought to understand and assess student progress based upon evidence of changing behavioural traits rather than the expression of learned responses or ‘right’ answers. This was the beginning of the being, engaging, contextualizing and managing (BECM) matrix. The European Union‐funded research project called Policy Influence of Indicators (POINT) made use of BECM as part of a process for exploring ways in which groups make use of indicators in several domains. This paper tells the story of how BECM was used in the POINT project to gain an understanding of group behaviour by observation of four segregated but linked qualities.

Wiley Online Link

Bell, S. and Morse, S. 2011. Being, Engaging, Contextualizing and Managing Matrix—a Means for Nonspecialists to Assess Group Dynamics? Embedding Technology in Practice. Systems Research and Behavioural Science. DOI: 10.1002/sres.1088.

 

An Approach to Comparing External and Internal Methods for Analyzing Group Dynamic

Abstract:
Beginning with the question, can a multimethodology explore the nature of group work from both the inside out (group participant self-analysis) and the outside in (facilitator observed analysis), this study presents the results of a statistical analysis comparing 2 different approaches to assessing group function: SYMLOG (A SYstem for the Mul- tiple Level Observation of Groups) and BECM (Being, Engaging, Contextualizing and Managing). SYMLOG is a quantitative internal assessment of group function made by members of the group, whereas BECM is a qualitative external assessment made by an outsider observing the groups. Together, it is argued, they provide a unique, triangu- lated assessment of the group dynamic. By using a “best subsets” linear regression technique it was found that some of the 26 characteristics of SYMLOG are related to BECM scoring (adjusted R2 0.82). This article discusses the reasons for this and the repercussions for such blending of approaches to understanding group dynamic. The article ends by discussing the relative advantages and disadvantages of the 2 ap- proaches and potential for further hybridizing of them in blended group dynamic approaches.

APA Link

Bell, S. and Morse, S. 2013. An Approach to Comparing External and Internal Methods for Analyzing Group Dynamic. Group Dynamics: theory, research and practice. 17, 4, 281 – 298.